I owe Omega Force a huge apology. For a while, I thought the only games they could make were Warriors games, and in fairness almost all of their output was either an entry in the Dynasty Warriors series or a game taking that skeleton and applying a different color of franchise-paint to it. They did it with Zelda, they did it with Berserk, and I simply assumed they did it with Attack on Titan as well. Because of that, I never gave the first Attack on Titan game the time of day, but after playing it’s sequel, I realize just how wrong my assumptions about that game and Omega Force’s talents were.
Attack on Titan was your grandma’s favorite anime five years ago, and while the international hype for it has died down considerably lately, it’s still an ongoing and incredibly well-done story. Attack on Titan 2 explores the story of the first two anime seasons, but with a twist. While the first game saw you playing the story through the eyes of the existing protagonists, this new game has you create and customize your own little titan-slayer. It then inserts them into the story as a character who was operating behind the scenes and just so happened to be present for, or adjacent to all the major events of the original story.
It does quite a lazy job making this character feel like a major player in the campaign. Most of the time, story scenes will unfold with your character either barely chiming in or simply not being present at all. CG cutscenes also lack a bit of forethought by referring to your character as “he” even though you can make a female, and showing plenty of first-person shots of your jacket-clad character when you can actually choose to never wear the jacket. Still, the story here is presented pretty well. A mix of in-game dialogue exchanges and pre-rendered cutscenes take us through the major moments of the story with as much gravitas and artistic flair as the source material. Long-time fans will enjoy the way their favorite moments play out, but newcomers might be a little lost when certain important plot points are glossed over or skipped entirely.
In the end, the fun with your custom character isn’t to be had during the adapted main story, but during the casual moments in-between. Before your next mission, you’ll be in Town Life mode, where you can wander around the town and base to talk to characters, make dialogue choices, and get on their good sides to increase Friendship Ranks. Raising this rank will lead to unique cutscenes involving you and that character that are always a treat. Attack on Titan is a grim narrative that rarely slows down, so getting to see these characters in a more relaxed environment and getting a peek into their personalities is a blast.
Once you finish talking to everybody, it’s time to head into battle. In the Attack on Titan series, humans use waist-mounted cable gears to latch onto buildings and fling themselves around like Spider-man in order to encircle giant humanoid titans and slash at their weak spots with swords. It’s a bizarre style of movement and combat that seemed impossible to adapt into a video game, yet Attack on Titan 2 manages to deliver on both perfectly.
The simple act of moving around your environment in this game is so, so good. You utilize one button to jump and guide your body, and the other to fire off wire-hooks and swing along them as you build momentum. I relished every moment that I had to navigate from one end of the map to another, because it meant I got to spend more time playing around with the buttery-smooth movement system that gave me multiple flashbacks to the satisfying web-swinging of Spider-man 2 on the PS2.
Once I got to my objective and started to engage these behemoth beasts, that excitement didn’t wane. Combat is fun and flashy, but it is also the farthest thing from Warriors hack-and-slash imaginable. There’s an steep learning curve to start, but it gives way to an open-ended combat system that requires precision and strategy even on the easiest of difficulties.
Maintaining momentum and targeting weak spots on a titan body are key, but you also have to think about the way your attack will cause that titan’s body to contort or fall so that you can target it’s ultimate weakness, the nape of the neck. Titans bodies don’t quite ragdoll, but they flail and cling to bodies and structures dynamically in a way that always keeps you on your toes. If you aren’t careful, you can be swatted down by a titan or tossed into their mouth in an instant. Attack on Titan 2 perfectly encapsulates the palm-drenching David and Goliath battles that the franchise is known so well for.
Some Dynasty Warriors trappings are still present, but with such a huge shift in the core gameplay style, I still never felt like I was playing a Warriors spinoff. There are resupply bases scattered around the map and side-objectives to engage with for extra rewards. There are also skill and equipment systems that add a fun extra layer to combat, but also a potentially infuriating grind for the players that aren’t as interested in it. Successful missions end with you receiving cash and materials you can use to craft or upgrade weapons and maneuver gear, while Friendship Ranks can reward you with bonus skills to equip in battle that give you enhanced stats or quickened cooldowns.
For the titan-slayer with a posse, you can hop into 4 person cooperate missions online. This mode isn’t a seamless co-op story, but rather a variety of standalone missions you can have fun in and get material rewards from. You can also engage in competitive modes, but the competition is less about PvP and more about seeing who can kill more titans within the time limit. It’s shallow, but still a fun side activity. This is also where you can play as one of over 30 existing characters from the series, although unlike Warriors games, these characters don’t have unique movesets or special attacks. Beyond slight stat differences, they all function identically.
Omega Force managed to do something incredibly rare and impressive with their Attack on Titan games, they managed to make a totally brand new video game. Some trappings of the Warriors formula remain, but they serve to complement a fresh and unique core gameplay experience. I wish the involvement from my character in the story had been a little more significant, but the opportunities I got to mingle with the cast between missions more than made up for it. Attack on Titan 2 is one of the strongest anime video games I’ve ever played, not because of a perfect story mode or graphics, but because it creates a unique gameplay experience that could only ever be done with an Attack on Titan game.
Version tested: PlayStation 4